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INTERVIEWS

Michael Leonhart: Surfing on an Orchestral Wave

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If one were to find an answer to the age-old “nature or nurture" debate, s/he would have to look no further than The Painted Lady Suite [Sunnyside Records]. Listening to the stunning debut album by the Michael Leonhart Orchestra makes it clear that major achievements are only possible when nature and nurture are well integrated and perfectly balanced. Take Michael Leonhart, an artist blessed by nature with a superior talent that was nurtured by a musical family. His ...

GETTING INTO JAZZ

Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers and Hart Song Book

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Getting StartedIf you're new to jazz, go to our Getting Into Jazz primer for some hints on how to listen. Background The Great American Songbook--songs written from the 1920's to the 1950's by giants such as Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, Duke Ellington and the Gershwin brothers--has inspired jazz musicians and singers for generations, supplying the raw material for endless improvisation. In listening to jazz, a good rule of thumb is “Know the song and you're halfway there." ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hubert Dupont: Smart Grid

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French bassist and composer Hubert Dupont has been mixing music and political activism since his Sabil Trio played at the Institute of the Arab World in 2013. That event served as the inspiration for Golan/Al Joulan Vol. 1 (2016) and Golan/Al Joulan Vol. 2 (2017), both on the Ultrabolic label. His blend of Arab music and jazz on those releases is part of his broader musical reach, extending to the influences of Africa, Eastern European music and spoken word. Dupont's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graz Composers Orchestra meets Claudia Döffinger: Monochrome

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The title of composer and pianist Claudia Döffinger's collaboration with Graz Composers Orchestra, Monochrome, is a bit of a misnomer. The seven pieces, five by Döffinger, are definitely not in shades of a single color. They are multitextured, vibrantly-hued and captivating, and often coalesce around one or two instruments like Kaleidoscopic patterns around light beams. For instance, the funky “Mumpitz" has a loose, swaggering cadence and energetic sparring between the band's three sections. At the core of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Django Festival All-Stars: Attitude Manouche

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It is a little known fact that Django Reinhardt was not only an incredible guitarist, he was also extremely good at stealing chickens. For the manouche clan of gypsies to which he belonged, this was a noble skill. He was saved from life as a chicken thief only when given a banjo-guitar at age 12. He became obsessed with the instrument, learning by mimicking the fingerings of established musicians, such as his uncle Guiligou. By the time he was 15 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tomeka Reid, Kyoko Kitamura, Taylor Ho Bynum, Joe Morris: Geometry of Caves

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A free-jazz veteran meets up with three musicians quickly establishing their own impressive legacies on the bewitching Geometry of Caves, a wholly improvised affair that offers plenty of intrigue and vigorous four-way dialogue during seven imaginative pieces. Guitarist Joe Morris's long recording career has seen him working with giants like William Parker, Anthony Braxton and Ivo Perelman, but he's also connected with a newer generation of players, including folks like Nate Wooley, with whom he recorded Ninth Square ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: This World of Dew

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This World of Dew is the third recorded go-around by trumpeter Aaron Shragge and guitarist Ben Monder. Shragge expands the expected pallette of the duo sound with his use of the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and his Dragon Mouth Trumpet, a custom microtonal instrument designed to expand the melodic capacity of the horn. Monder received an exposure boost via his work in the Maria Schneider Orchestra and his stellar contribution to Concert in the Garden (Artist Share, 2004). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Àine O'Dwyer: Gegenschein

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By anyone's standards, Àine O'Dwyer is a hyper-accomplished musician and innovator. As a pre-teen in her native Ireland she had already taken on the piano, harp, fiddle and flute. Eventually focusing her attention on the harp and piano, she developed an unquenchable inquisitiveness about the pipe organ--not the most accessible of instruments. In acts of quiet defiance, she began dropping in--unannounced--at St. Mark's Church in London to practice on their organ. The result of her personal recordings is the cult ...

MIXCLOUD

Audioguide: Norway in a Nutshell

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Every year around 30 jazz promoters and journalists from Europe and the USA make a pilgrimage to the city of Bergen in the west of Norway to experience Nutshell. Established by the various organisations who export Norwegian music, Nutshell showcases the best Norwegian jazz of the moment amidst the incredible scenery of fjords and mountains that the country is famous for. The showcase programme was curated by drummer Gard Nilssen and dovetails with Bergen's longstanding Nattjazz Festival, offering a taste ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kristina Koller: Perception

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Kristina Koller is a 23-year-old vocalist who shows a knack for mixing things up on her debut album. Her song list contains venerable standards along with original material and songs by fairly recent rock acts like Blink-182 and Bon Iver, while her arrangements of the material encompasses everything from mainstream acoustic jazz to hip-hop and funk. As a result you get versions of “I'll Remember April" and “Blame It On My Youth" that sport elegant acoustic piano underlined ...